[closed - complete | umberto]
WHO: Hinata, Shino
WHAT: Sometimes the library is boring and sometimes you meet a potential bff.
WHERE: Campus library
WHEN: (tentatively) Friday September 18, midmorning
WARNINGS: Dorky and adorable. Fluff needed to be thrown at the comm and this log was finished a million years ago.
As much as he hated to admit it, for once in his life Shino was bored at the library. It wasn't the books; they were doing everything they could to make the quiet day nice for him. Soft droplets of rain were pattering against the darkened panes, the shelves smelled vaguely of warm well-loved paper, just the right amount of dust was emanating at a low level from the spines. Things should have been perfect.
Instead, the stacks were all but bustling with students, most of them in their first year and avidly confused, bodies milling everywhere, ruining the silence with a low level chatter and some of the most inane questions the Aburame boy had ever been asked. It was like slowly allowing his brain to melt out of his ear as he again and again directed small groups of wide-eyed new students to the same few sections, pointing out each time the bold cheerful signs placed visibly all over the place which could have directed them just as easily. Perhaps, then, it wasn't boredom so much as a slowly building irritation with the inability of others to find things in a logically arranged library.
Seating himself for what felt like the thousandth time in the last half hour, Shino glanced down at the text book he was keeping open at his station. Still on the first page. He wasn't sure why he'd expected he could get any work done during the first few weeks of classes. Nevertheless he gave his reading glasses a little tap properly into place and began absently running his thumb down the edge of the now familiar page. Something would break the monotony, sooner or later.
Hinata had come to the library to get out of her cousins hair for a bit. Still stuck living with him until she could find an apartment of her own. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy her cousins company. She just still felt like a bother to him. So she'd grabbed her books and headed to the library to work on one of the many research papers she'd already been assigned.
Why did she have to pick such a hard major?
She'd been going over her copy of Grays Anatomy all afternoon and her brain was starting to hurt from it. Too many medical terms. She honestly hoped that they weren't going to expect her to remember them all. Maybe... maybe it was time to work on something else for a while. Digging through her textbooks she realized that none of them were appealing right now. Her brain was fried.
She thought about leaving, going back to the apartment. Maybe Neji would show her where that cafe was he talked about. The rain that was falling quashed that idea. So what else could she do to reset?
Hinata giggled to herself. The answer was so obvious. Just because she was in the library didn't mean she needed to read textbooks.
Yes a nice non-textbook would be good. And once the rain stopped she could take it with her to finish later. With a smile on her face she hopped up from her table to find the nearest computer. There was a book she hadn't read in a long time. She knew most of it but sometimes you have that favorite book that no matter how many times you read it, it never gets old. Looking up the title she quickly scribbled down the location and headed off to the stacks.
Finding the location she'd copied down she looked... and she looked... but the book didn't seem to be there.
Confused she walked back down to the end of the row. No, this was the right place. Heading back down she read off the titles on the spines as she passed, stopping where her book should have been.
It was gone.
Double checking the computer said there should be not just one but at least two copies of the book. None of them checked out. Discouraged the girl thought perhaps she should just pack up and go. She didn't really need it. Could get by without it.
But she really wanted to read it now.
Hinata was about to give up when she spotted someone sitting at the desk. He was studying, and she hated to bother him. One quick question wouldn't be that bad. Besides, she thought he looked like one of the kids from her bio-chem class. Working up her nerve she finally walked over.
"E-excuse me?" her voice was soft, as if she expected him to bite her head off for interrupting him. "I'm wondering if you can help me find something."
Three sentences further into his reading. It wasn't impressive from the standpoint of having more than one chapter to read, but it was likely a new record for the day. True, he'd only arrived half an hour ago, but having traversed a mere page and a half in that time, a chance to read three sentences together was fairly impressive. The soft voice interrupting him this time was at least polite and quiet, not jabbering and demanding the way so many voices were on days like this. Carefully setting his pen down on the new sentence he'd reached, Shino glanced up over the edge of his glasses at the young woman fluttering in front of his desk. She had a nervous air about her, a quietly reserved way of holding herself which he could certainly appreciate. The smile he might have flashed had he been a more expressive person flickered briefly around the edges of his lips in a vaguely sympathetic gesture.
"...it's why I'm here," he replied in a monotone, tilting his head just a little to the left as he continued to study the girl. She seemed vaguely familiar; undoubtedly one of the faces which flashed in and out of his life every day as he moved from work to class to the noise of student life before he could retreat to the sanctuary of his home. Shifting easily, he reached to tap the computer beside himself back into life without taking his eyes off the girl. He couldn't quite put his finger on where he recognized her from, but it was already fading into the back of his mind. Hopefully she wasn't thinking anything similar--being recognized by classmates often led to the need to make polite chattering conversation which lasted without end. "If you'll tell me what you were trying to find."
"The Island of the Day Before, by Umberto Eco." She blushed a little, holding out the little slip of paper that she had written down the information on. "The computer says that there should be two copies on the shelves but I can't seem to locate it. Unless I'm reading the entry wrong, but..." a somewhat sheepish look crossed her face. "It's not really the kind of book I expect a lot of people to be looking for."
It was possible the computer was wrong and someone else did have them. Of course knowing her luck she had been staring right at the book and hadn't even seen it.
A different young man might have smiled reassuringly, or at least made the mental note that the girl was amazingly adorable when she flushed like that. This, however, was Shino. With a little nod, he nudged his glasses properly onto his nose again before focusing his attention on the computer. A few keystrokes pulled up the same information as the numbers neatly scrawled across the girl's scrap of paper; a few better keystrokes pulled up a series of lists he wasn't entirely sure the reading population without an administrative key codes had access to. This little piece of information more than anything else brought something another human being might recognize as a smile to his lips. At least this person actually needed his help.
He could have just jotted the new numbers down. There was even a stack of library maps he could have scribbled directions on and handed off to his fellow student. As he'd learned, however, the annoyance was much less if he actually got up and physically lead the hapless student to the book he or she was seeking. Besides, getting up from the desk not only assured that the same person wasn't coming back every ten seconds, it also gave him a break from the next 'customer' to approach the help desk. His coworker could field the next complaint that the first year course books weren't directly below the sign marked 'first year course books.'
With a quietly authoritative (and hopefully reassuring) glance at the young woman, Shino pushed himself lightly to his feet. "...there's a literature class running this semester on Eco," he explained evenly. With a little nod of his head toward the other end of the library, he slipped out from behind the desk and continued, "We moved some of his titles from their original locations. It... was supposed to make them easier to find."
"Oh well... I didn't realize there was a class that needed it." There was that little bit of guilt again. She didn't want to take it if it was going to be putting students who needed it out. There were lots of other books on the shelves. Chances were good she could find something else to stem her boredom. If he was going to go through the trouble of showing her where they'd moved them to she decided she might as well follow. It would be good for future reference anyways. She didn't actually have to take the book.
Now that he was standing at his full height the young man was starting to look a little familiar. He was... really tall. Granted everyone seemed tall to Hinata but he looked like he might be tall even to tall people. Come to think of it there was a really tall guy in one or two of her classes. Was it possible this was the same guy? Smiling to herself she decided that was silly. It was a big school with a lot of students. She'd probably never seen this guy before other then her other trips down here to the library. And even if it was the same person what of it? It's not like she was the type to just randomly strike up conversations with total strangers. She didn't even talk to the other kids during class time. So she just followed him quietly, making mental note to herself how many turns he'd taken and trying to keep it in relation to the table where she'd left her books.
Rather than say anything in response, Shino simply shrugged his shoulders absently and gave a little tilt of his head, inviting the girl to follow him through the slight crowds to the proper stack. He didn't mind, after all, helping this particular girl. Unlike someone who might have been pleased about helping a pretty girl find a book, it was more of a Darwinistic training technique. This girl had actually taken the time to look for herself, to try and find something on her own, and was only seeking aid when she'd determined that she really needed it. If it meant redistributing books required for a course to less requiring hands, so be it. He would train the library-users of this university what it meant to use a card catalog.
Hopefully this was also how training a college population to properly use the library worked.
It took a moment and a few stacks before he realized that people who were not his father might not understand the slightest facial ticks and finger twitches he sometimes used to communicate with the outside world. Glancing back at the girl, half to be sure she was following and half to make the requisite eye contact for proper human conversation. "It's nothing to be worried about, if you're interested in the book. We're not the only library in the area."
"I know. I just... don't like making things difficult for people." It wasn't like she couldn't run to another library herself. Or even just buy herself a copy. Yes, in fact she told herself that once she got home she would log onto her cousins computer and order her own copy. And then once that arrived she could return the borrowed one. That way she wouldn't be tying up library resources. That reminded her...
"Thank you, by the way, for helping me." She couldn't remember if she had already said that to him or not. Better to say it twice then to seem rude.
She was charming. It was rare that Shino ever actually encountered a person he felt deserved the title 'charming,' but this girl certainly was. Her quiet voice, the slightly stuttering halt that appeared and disappeared as she spoke, the wide-eyed little look as she followed him into what was clearly the wrong section of the library toward a table display. There was something very endearing about the picture she made, a delicate but completely endearing quality that simply floated around her. It was a nice break from the loud rude boys and horribly chatty girls who had been constantly flowing up to and away from his desk at a nearly constant rate for the last half hour.
"...it's why I'm here," Shino reminded her gently with a faint curl of his lips that might have been a smile. "Like I said. Helping people find books is... my job."
The table at the end of the row was littered with the messy remains of what had been just that morning neatly organized stacks of Western literature. The intern took a moment, scanning the piles in as systematic a fashion as possible before tapping the remains of the pile of Eco.
Hinata had managed to catch that slight smile, and for a moment she realized how handsome he was. Not in the drop dead gorgeous way her cousin and Naruto were but still. Without realizing it her cheeks glowed again softly as she followed the tapping. There it was. Laying slightly under Foucault's Pendulum. And what was worse, she was pretty sure she had walked past this table at some point today and hadn't even noticed them sitting there.
"Here it is." There was a touch of embarrassed amusement as she picked up the book, thumbing briefly through the pages. It was your typical, abused library book, complete with scribbled notes in the margin that really didn't belong there. Pleased to have found it she folded her arms around it, smiling warmly at him. "I don't know if you've ever read it but, it's very good. Lonely, but good."
There she went, being charming again. There was something supremely sweet about the way she hugged the volume tight against her chest, the slight flush and warm smile. This must be what it was like to want to take care of someone, he reasoned quietly. Shino had never really understood his father's compulsion to take care of him, the moments of confused fumbling emotions and a gentle hand in his hair and the incomprehensible exchange of glances. Perhaps sometimes he himself sent off those little signals, the quiet desire to be coddled and cared for and given attention to because it was rare and perfect.
Then there was the fact that she'd just described a book as lonely. It was fairly intriguing. At the very least, it was interesting enough to keep his attention, to keep the slight quirk of a smile on his lips as his hands set to work on the table. It felt good to organize, thumbing the edges of the books carefully as he began to make a quiet sense out of the piles of books again, and it felt comfortable to focus in on this girl's voice in the bustle of students milling around the stacks in desperation. If he tuned himself down to this single frequency--the sweet girl smiling at him and the books he was fixing into an organized stack--it felt like a good day.
She laughed a little. It was a silly description for a book. "It's about a castaway. He spends days or weeks floating in the ocean, tied to a board till he comes across a ship. It's fully provisioned and in near perfect condition yet there is no crew. Once his wits are about him he realizes that it's apparently in a wide bay, with land just about a mile away but there's no long boat, his plank has floated away, and he can't swim. He's alive but stranded still on what he somehow comes to believe is the international date line. Hence the name of the book."
As she watched him reorganizing the books Hinata couldn't help but wonder if he was really listening to her, or simply being polite. She couldn't blame him for the later really. "Anyways, he spends his time in retrospect, thinking about his life, writing letters to his wife and trying to keep sane. He even invents an evil twin brother who he convinces himself is the one who is the one who did anything wrong or hurtful." Tucking her hair back behind her ear she shifted a little, trying not to fidget as that awkward feeling crept in again. "I guess I'm rambling now though. I should let you get back to work."
He recognized her voice now. One of the biology classes he'd been in over the past year or so, maybe as recently as this term--Shino wasn't sure he'd heard her participate in class (her voice wasn't as recognizable as, say, Nara's), but now that she had been talking for an extended period of time and with a quiet animation, he was fairly certain that he'd heard her voice before, perhaps murmuring quietly during a lab or asking a soft question from the back of the class. Probably this year, if he was recognizing it. Possibly bio-chemistry. He was usually just disillusioned enough in that section to notice the sound of his classmates' voices.
"...it was nice," he replied in his usual calm monotone, lips lifting just a little more in their quiet quirk. "It's always good to hear that our visitors are... actually passionate about reading." Glancing up from his work and at the title again, he gave a reassuring little nod and very briefly actually cast his smile in the girl's direction properly. "...I'll remember to read it when you bring it back."